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The Sarvodaya State
Many have shaken their heads as they have said, ‘But you can’t teach non-violence to the masses. It is only possible for individuals and that too in rare cases.’ That is, in my opinion, a gross self-deception. If man-kind was not habitually non-violent, it would have been self-destroyed ages ago. But in the duel between forces of violence and non-violence the latter have always come out victorious in the end. The truth is that we have not had patience enough to wait and apply our–selves whole-heartedly to the spread of non-violence among the people as means for political ends.
Young India, 2-1-‘30
To me political power is not an end but one of the means of enabling people to better their condition in every department of life. Political power means capacity to regulate national life through national representatives. If national life becomes so perfect as to become self-regulated, no representation becomes necessary, there is then a state of enlightened anarchy. In such a State everyone is his own ruler. He rules himself in such a manner that is never a hindrance to his neighbour. In the ideal State, therefore, there is no political power because there is no State. But the ideal is never fully realized in life. Hence the classical statement of Thoreau that government is best which governs the least.
Young India, 2-7-‘31
I look upon an increase in the power of the State with greatest fear, because although wile apparently doing good by minimizing exploitation, it does the greatest harm to mankind by destroying individuality which lies at the root of all progress.
The State represents violence in a concentrated and organized form. The individual has a soul, but as the State is a soulless machine, it can never be weaned from violence to which it owes its vey existence.
What I disapprove of is an organization based on force which a State is. Voluntary organization there must be.
The Modern Review, 1935, P.412
(As to whether in an ideal society, there should be any or no government.) I do not think, we need worry work ourselves about at the moment. If we continue to work for such a society, it will slowly come into being to an extent, such that the people can benefit by it. Euclid’s line is one without breadth but no one has so far been able to draw it and never will. All the same it is only by keeping the ideal line in mind that we have made progress in geometry. What is true here is true of every ideal.
It must be remembered that nowhere in the world, does a State without government exist. If at all it could ever come into being, it would be in India; for, ours is the only country where the attempt has, at any rate, been made. We have not yet been able to show that bravery to the degree which is necessary and for the attainment of which there is only one way. Those who have faith in the latter, have to demonstrate it. In order to do so, the fear of death has to be completely shed, just as we have shed the fear of prisons.
Even in a non-violent State a police force may be necessary. This, I admit, is a sign of my imperfect Ahimsa. I have not the courage to declare that we can carry on without a police force as I have in respect of an army. Of course, I can and do envisage a State where the police will not be necessary; but whether we shall succeed in realizing it, the future alone will show.
The police of my conception will, however, be of a wholly different pattern from the present-day force. Its ranks will be composed of believers in non-violence. They will be servants, not masters, of the people. The People will instinctively render them every help, and through mutual co-operation they will easily deal with the ever-decreasing disturbances. The police force will have some kind of arms, but they will be rarely used, if at all. In fact the policeman will be reformers. Their police work will bed confined primarily to robbers and dacoits. Quarrels between labour and capitals and strikes will be few and far between in a non-violent State, because the influence of the non-violent State, because the influence of the non-violent majority will be so great as to command the respect of the principal elements in society. Similarly there will be no room for communal disturbances.